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How service dogs benefit people with disabilities

Service dog opening door for man in wheelchair indoors

Dogs are well-known as “man’s best friend.” The American Kennel Club notes that they provide health benefits, lower stress, and improve mood. Service dogs offer these benefits but are also trained to perform specific tasks to help people with disabilities. Disability Insider explains that no matter your disability, a service dog can improve your day-to-day life. 

Assist With Limited Mobility or Fatigue

People suffering from chronic fatigue/pain or limited mobility may need help retrieving or carrying objects or regaining their balance. Mobility assistance dogs are service dogs trained to aid them with these daily tasks. A mobility assistance dog can prevent falls, pick up fallen objects, unload dryers, guide their owners during errands, and press elevator buttons. These service dogs can also help wheelchair users in and out of their chairs.

Detect and Respond to Seizures

Seizures can occur quickly and at any time, and many people with epilepsy fear having one in public. A seizure alert dog can warn them of one up to an hour before it starts, usually by barking or ringing a preprogrammed alarm. Their proactivity lets epilepsy patients take necessary precautions to prevent serious injuries, such as leaving crowded places or lying down.

While a seizure alert dog can detect a seizure’s onset, a seizure response dog is trained to help its owner during an epileptic episode. They typically place their bodies between the seizing individual and the floor to prevent fall injuries.

Provide Companionship

Sometimes a disability can impact your social life negatively, and 40% of adults with disabilities report they feel lonely according to a CHRT health policy brief. However, having a service dog with you 24/7 provides companionship and can reduce social isolation. Individuals with service dogs exhibit higher social, emotional, and work/school performance, and service dogs help relieve stress and anxiety.

Choosing a Service Dog

When selecting a service dog, note some breeds are more attuned to certain needs. The following dog breeds are top choices for service dogs:

Labrador retriever. As one of the most popular dog breeds, Labradors’ good-natured disposition and natural inclination to retrieve makes them ideal mobility assistance dogs.

Golden retriever. With a similar temperament to Labradors, golden retrievers are excellent at reducing anxiety and helping with PTSD.

German shepherd. This easy-to-train and intelligent breed makes great service dogs. They can help with mobility, ease anxiety, and sense blood sugar levels in their owners.

Great Dane. These gentle giants’ large stature and strength can assist people with standing and regaining balance. Additionally, their calm, loving temperament can provide emotional support.

Once you find a service dog that fits your needs, purchase dog owner mainstays, such as food and water bowls, a harness and leash, a collar with a name tag, and a dog bed. Make sure to read up on expert reviews to ensure you’re getting the most from your purchases. Your new companion may be highly sensitive to your stress levels, so help them adjust by bonding with them and creating a safe space. Some helpful tips include setting up your dog’s space immediately, remaining calm, and keeping a routine.

You’ll also want to look into pet insurance. This ensures that you’re able to provide for your pet’s medical care needs without the big, surprise expense. There are several considerations when shopping for pet insurance, including rate, coverage, scope, etc., so make sure to do your research before choosing one.

Live Better With Your Furry Companion

Service dogs provide a litany of benefits, from being able to assist with mobility to providing companionship. With a little help from your four-legged friend, you can discover greater independence, improved mood, and ability to achieve your day-to-day tasks.

Disability Insider provides information on the latest statistics, research and global news on disability, accessibility and universal design with a special focus on accessible travel and technology. Contact us today to learn more!

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